COVID-19 has necessitated transitions (from the workplace to the classroom) that are difficult to navigate — and successes thus far have surely been inconsistent. One of the biggest challenges during COVID-19 has been many people’s individualistic decision to refuse to wear masks and take social distance precautions seriously despite doctors’ and experts’ advice. This is likely an example of the endowment effect bias: the instinct to inflate the value of what we have over what we’d be willing to sacrifice for it. Even in a global crisis, so many are fueled to behave in their perceived self-interest rather than sacrifice something seemingly small (their comfort and convenience) in service of public safety.

For philanthropy, it’s important to understand and account for how the willingness to make sacrifices will impact efforts to address the crisis of racism as well. During his keynote at The Forum conference, How to Be an Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi discussed his analogy likening racism to cancer. Kendi argues that we can learn from how we treat cancer to conceptualize the treatment of racism — as needing both local and structural extraction. Treating cancer requires sacrifice. When you choose to treat cancer, you face potential surgeries (and their risks) and painful chemotherapy, and you allocate time and resources away from your family and other priorities because the alternatives are too dire to consider.

So, what might philanthropy need to ‘sacrifice’ to address racism?

In short, power. Many speakers at the conference emphasized the need for philanthropy to embrace trust and to share and build power with impacted communities, those with lived experience, and those most proximate to the ground (i.e. community-based organizations).

Read the full article about sacrifice in times of crisis by Leaha Wynn at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.